Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Lord of the DVDs

This Friday was a lovely day. I received my box of The Lord of the Rings - The Motion Picture Trilogy (Special Extended DVD Edition) (2004) from Amazon.

To say that I am an LOTR fan will be an understatement. I do not think it's the best movie ever made, but definitely one of the best in the longest movie category. And yes, I do not think it's a trilogy, it's one film that we get to see in three installments.

I did see the movie on the big screen in installments. And then, I bought DVDs in installments, first pirated copies because I couldn't wait. Then the original copies, as they reached Indian shores.

The first one--he Fellowship of the Ring--released by Indus here was fullscreen and the transfer was totally crappy, worse than those from the Palika pirates. The Two Towers was a better release, brought to India by Saregama HMV. That 2-disc edition had the pride of place in my cupboard. Return of the King hasn't hit our shores yet.

I had been drooling at the extended edition box set since its release. At least once a day. I visit once a day. And finally, it was too much. It takes one click to buy and I said goodbye to my will power and clicked. The box arrived this Friday.

It would have arrived in just two days had I bought from, but the UK DVDs follow the PAL system. I have a DVD player that plays both NTSC and PAL progressive and my TV is progressive scan-capable, but only NTSC progressive.

The DVD player can very ably convert the PAL progressive into NTSC progressive, but it's never pure.

I will explain this a little: What you see as moving picture is a succession of still pictures or frames at a very high speed. PAL is 25 frames per second, NTSC is nearly 30 frames per second (29.976 to be exact). A film goes at the speed of 24 frames per second. When the film is converted to video by PAL, the film is sped up to 25 frames per second, and the audio is altered for pitch and tone, so that there's no lip-sync problem. Since it's sped up, a film is generally 4 per cent shorter on a PAL video, which some people mistake for censuring.

NTSC does that by 3:2 pulldown. According to Euroversion, to transfer the 24fps film to 29.976 NTSC, every fourth frame is divided into two seperate frames to create a fifth frame, causing an "interlaced", or combing pattern on the two new frames, (there are websites dedicated to this subject, do a search for "telecine" or "Interlaced NTSC" and you'll get great explanations, but that's it in a nutshell). NTSC interlacing gives you jittery picture, but progressive scan solves the problem by de-interlacing it.

Anyway, the trouble with PAL progressive video in my room is that, the DVD reads the PAL progressive, then converts it into NTSC and interlaces it, and then deinterlaces it to send it to my TV that interlaces it back for the screen. And I can notice my electronics babies working unnecessarily hard to get me a progressive video.

If I get an NTSC DVD, this is not needed as the DVD does not have to do any conversion. NTSC DVD to NTSC player to NTSC TV. Life is simple.

Anyway, just to let my DVD player have it easy, I waited for five days. This is also a mystery. The orders are shipped from Frankfurt Germany, not the US. The orders are shipped from a small town in England.
The UK order reaches me in two days, the order takes 7-10 days. I do not understand that.

Anyway, back to the LOTR DVD. It's extended, really extended. The films, all three of them, run for almost 11 hours. And then there are so many extras that I would take weeks to watch them all.

Now the trouble is the bill. I am dreading to calculate the price in Indian rupees, because the LOTR box was not the only one I ordered. To save the shipping cost, I went for the kill this time. I need a new storage, but am wondering there's any money left in the account for that.

So has the DVD-buying passion been worth it? Oh, definitely.


Anonymous said...

Hats off to you for having the patience to bear the 11 hr movie. You truly deserve the tittle of 'LORD OF DVDs' .

Jabberwock said...

Thanks for the enlightenment on the NTSC/PAL formats - you explained some complicated stuff in a very lucid way.